Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review

Testing patients to allow tailored drug treatment

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 10 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:352
  1. Peter Leman, clinical senior lecturer (⇑,
  2. Shaun Greene, associate specialist2
  1. 1University of Western Australia, Emergency Department, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA, Australia,
  2. 2National Poisons Information Service, Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital, London
  1. Correspondence to: P Leman

The application of pharmacogenetics in preventing adverse drug reactions as illustrated by Konstantopoulou et al1 is not new. In 510 bc Pythagoras observed that only some individuals—those with a deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)—developed a potentially fatal reaction after ingesting fava beans. For nearly 50 years anaesthetists have been identifying patients who may have a deficiency of normal plasma cholinesterase (leading to prolonged suxamethonium neuromuscular blockade or “scoline apnoea”) by taking a simple patient history.2

Although the development of modern pharmacogenetic assays designed to reduce the incidence of adverse drug reactions is still its infancy, the case presented by Konstantopoulou et al …

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